New Red Brick director Angie Callen to focus on youth and adults
Special to The Aspen Times
Angie Callen chose to take the road less traveled by civil engineers toward a career in the arts. Callen, who replaced Debra Muzikar as the new executive director of the Red Brick Council for the Arts, has an eclectic background that makes her an ideal fit for the leadership position.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Callen received her degree in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Following college, Callen practiced engineering in Boston. While there, she came to two life-changing conclusions: She was tired of living in a major city, and she needed better snow.
“Living in the city was a rat race. It was exhausting,” Callen said.
After falling in love with alpine snowboarding, a style of snowboarding with hard boots and a squared-off snowboard to maximize carving, Callen decided to commute four hours every Friday from Boston to Maine to snowboard in what she referred to as the “crappy East Coast conditions.”
In 2007, on a Summit Expression Session in Aspen, an annual event for alpine snowboarders to meet and ride together, Callen decided to follow her passion and move to Colorado. She is the epitome of the cliche “come to Aspen for the winter and stay for the summer.”
Callen moved to Breckenridge in 2008 to continue her career in engineering. On her next session two years later in Aspen, Callen met her future husband, Jim, and decided to search for a new job and move to Aspen to be closer to him.
Callen’s first job in Aspen — managing an art gallery — was the polar opposite from her previous position in engineering. She does not associate herself with one type of career or interest but rather looks to try new and different occupations.
“As an engineer, you are taught a certain way of thinking: very logarithmic, methodical and logical. However, there’s also a technical creativity, in a sense,” Callen said.
After several months at the gallery, Callen found a new job at Aspen Film, a nonprofit in the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which is managed by the Council for the Arts. She said she essentially became the director of operations by managing the film festivals and financial side. After two years of managing the same festivals, she became bored with her routine job and desired more variety and personal interactions. Coincidentally, the Aspen Film office is directly across the hallway from the Red Brick Council’s office.
“It was my experience (at Aspen Film) that really gave me what I needed to perform in this job,” Callen said.
Once the executive director position opened, she began the month-long application process until being hired. A combination of her diverse background in engineering, arts and a passion for snowboarding made her the ideal candidate.
After the founding of the Red Brick Council, there was a high rate of turnover with the executive director position. Then Muzikar took the job and stayed with the organization for eight years and laid a solid foundation for the program to expand.
“I don’t think I have any big plans to change but definitely big plans to grow,” Callen said. “One of my goals is to really have a consistent and comprehensive education and experience program starting from toddlers all the way through to adults.”
Less than two months into the job, she already has new plans for a “toddler, mommy and me” program for children ages 3 to 5. The program will be one hour every Thursday for some arts and crafts, allowing Callen to access a new, younger demographic of the community.
“My role here is a fruition of a lot of my past experience — the management, customer relations, financial part but also the creativity to create programs,” Callen said.
Scott Schlafer is an editorial intern working for The Aspen Times through July.
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